Armies of new COVID marshals are being utilised across the nation for jobs that could continue for another two years despite lockdown restrictions being set to end in eight weeks.
Councils in England are in the process of hiring a new body of marshals who are expected to take to the streets from July this year despite Government plans to lift remaining coronavirus restrictions on June 21.
It comes as data showed that approximately 40 million Britons now live in almost COVID free areas following the UK’s hugely successful vaccine rollout and continued lockdown stratagems.
Hertfordshire County Council is amongst those advertising for COVID marshals, with the local authority offering a contract worth an expected three million to a provider that can supply 60 marshals from July 1 until January 31 next year.
The contract also comes with a possible one-year extension to 2023.
In its description of the marshal’s duties, the contract notice reads that it will give practical support to help and encourage compliance, such as a dedicated staff in public areas, business support, or support for individuals.
It continues that they will introduce measures to help public and business awareness and understanding of regulations and guidance.
Hertfordshire County Council defended its decision to hire marshals, stating it wasn’t indicative of any increases in restrictions from July 2021 onwards.
Jim McManus, director of Public Health for Hertfordshire County Council, said that in line with the Government’s forecasts for the roadmap out of lockdown, they were working towards restrictions being lifted by 21 June 2021, but that they knew the virus was still circulating and would be for some time.
He said that they knew from last year that numbers of infection could develop quickly, and Government were very clear that they should plan in case a third wave appears, and that it would be a dereliction of duty not to prepare for a third wave, at the same time as doing all they could to stop it happening by keeping infections as low as possible so they could enjoy summer with no restrictions.
He said that COVID Marshals were an effective asset in the fight against COVID 19 and one of the key measures to manage local outbreaks as they continue to occur in communities.
Feedback from Hertfordshire schools, businesses and health partners is that they provide reassurance and promote simple but effective infection control measures such as social distancing, hand washing, face coverings and ventilation.
For example, in the weeks leading up to Step 2 of the Government’s roadmap, COVID Marshals attended approximately 4,000 businesses across the country to provide advice and guidance on reopening safely.
But these Marshals have been seen yelling at people in the main street to walk in the right direction and people are just laughing at them, which is a misuse of taxpayers money down the sewer, and are they going to have the same powers as the TV licencing enforcement officers who believe they have power but really don’t.
And it really won’t be long until one of these Marshals comes to grave harm from people, because there are lots of people out there that won’t hesitate, especially after living a year like most people have, at their wit’s end, they won’t take kindly to being ordered around by strangers in the street.
And if you were to ask the council jobsworth to empty the bins, cut the park lawns or fill in the potholes, you can’t see anyone for dust, yet putting Marshalls on the streets seems more important, because now we’ll have another bunch of public-funded busybodies, and I wonder what essential service will be cut to pay for them – definitely not the chief executive’s exorbitant pay.